After Losing Her Son, Mom Encourages Others To Appreciate 'Ordinary Days'

"Ordinary days are a treasured gift ... yet so often we don’t even realize it ... until they are gone."

According to the old saying, we often don't realize what we've got until it's gone. Heather Duckworth, for instance, never truly appreciated things on the day-to-day until her son's cancer diagnosis altered the entire course of her life.

"Before my son got sick, the days were long and busy. And they felt so monotonous . . . take care of kids, fix meals, pick up kids, clean up, play time, wash clothes, read stories, repeat. My husband and I were barely surviving with four young boys running us ragged," Duckworth wrote on her Facebook page, Love, Faith & Chaos. "I never thought of those days as special. They were hard and exhausting. But after my son got sick, I realized what a gift those ordinary days really are. And I missed them so much."

While Duckworth recognizes that caring for her son during his finals days was a "privilege" and that by his side was where she needed to be in that moment, she still longs for the "normal days" of her "old life."

"It was such a privilege to take care of my son when he was sick. That time with him was precious and he taught me so much about faith and courage during his illness," she explained. "But that had become our life. Our new normal . . . living in the hospital. I had to rely on family and friends to help care for my other 3 sons and to take care of our house. I wasn't there to wash the clothes, take my boys to school, fix them dinner and tuck them in at night. And it was so hard to be away from my family. Yet as I would lay there in the darkness with machines beeping and my son's hand in mine, I knew that is where I needed to be."

"I used to crave normal days during those long nights at the hospital. My heart ached for the ordinary. My soul cried for the mundane. I desperately wanted our old life back. The one we had before my son was diagnosed with cancer, Duckworth added. "I wanted the comfort of routines and the noisy squeals of healthy children. I wanted to be folding laundry and going to the grocery store and cooking on my stove. I missed the stress of getting four little boys to bed and I missed the long talks with my husband once they were asleep.

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However, the whole experience — as well as her son's eventual passing — taught Duckworth to appreciate the small moments in life. Whenever she begins to feel overwhelmed by her busy schedule, or bored by the mundane days of life, her heart reminds her to be thankful, as the memories flowing through her mind quickly put everything into perspective. She remembers that she must slow down, celebrate each day, live intentionally, and choose joy.

"Because life can change in an instant and nothing is guaranteed," she said. "And I don't want to take these beautifully, blessed normal days for granted because I know things could be so much worse."

"Normal are the best type of days," Duckworth added. "These are the days I prayed for during those hard times in the hospital. These are the days that remind me that my family is home and healthy. These are the days that make me fall to my knees and thank God for the normalcy. Ordinary days are a treasured gift ... yet so often we don't even realize it ... until they are gone. Those normal days mean you are living and loving and growing."

As Duckworth explains, traumatic events offer perspective, changing the way one sees an ordinary day in the blink of an eye. While people complain about their responsibilities as if they're a burden, illness and death often makes you realize that these ordinary tasks are truly blessings in disguise, and we need to pause each day and appreciate that we have the freedom to go about our days like normal. 

"I will never look at an ordinary day the same way again," Duckworth concluded. "Because those normal, mundane days mean life is good. It means everyone is healthy. It means all is well. It means we are showing up, trying our best and loving boldly. And those ordinary days add up to a life full of wonderful memories with the ones we love. And that is pretty extraordinary!"

Cover image via  Syda Productions / Shutterstock

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